Since I last posted, the Nats have done just enough to avoid disaster. Twice, against the Phillies and the Mets, they pulled out a win in a situation where defeat might have severly hampered any playoff hopes.
After dropping the opener of Thursday's doubleheader in Philly, the Nats were in danger of losing the series. But they came back in the eighth inning of the nightcap, pulling out a victory to split the series. It was a fantastic victory in what was pretty much a must-win game, at least in my opinion.
I caught bits and pieces of each game in the Mets series on New York TV or radio. Friday was just another typical Nats loss; a brilliant John Patterson outing was wasted in a 1-0 defeat. Saturday, Livan -- who is in danger of ¡never! getting his exclamation points back -- imploded big time, allowing eight runs in less than three innings. Washington battled, tying the game in the ninth inning, but they couldn't push across another run, falling 9-8.
That left Washington in an essentially must-win situation again yesterday. The Nats responded, getting 6 runs in the first inning off Anna Benson's husband, driving him from the game before he could finish the inning. Loaiza pitched fairly well for a guy on short rest, allowing only a three-run homer to rookie Mike Jacobs. Also, kudos to Ryan Church, who seems to have found his stroke again, batting leadoff yesterday in place of a struggling Brad Wilkerson.
Despite a pair of fielding errors in the ninth, Washington hung on to win 7-4. The win prevented a sweep and salvaged a 7-6 roadtrip, which is not a disaster, considering how poorly the Nats had played prior to the trip.
So where does that leave us? Before the 13 game roadtrip from hell, the Nationals were two games back in the Wild Card and five and half games back in the NL East. After the trip, they're 1.5 back of the Wild Card and 5 back in the division. So we gained a half game in each race.
Considering the difficulty of the roadtrip, I suppose that's good enough, but just barely. They held their own; but with the season winding down, it's time to kick it up a notch. Twenty-five of the 38 remaining games are at home, so the opportunity is definitely there.